CONSTRUCTION of six kilometres of new mountain bike track at SportsUNE has entered the final downhill run.
The facility has hosted plenty of high level events in the past including National Series rounds and is scheduled to host the World Endurance Mountain Bikers 24 hour championships later this year.
Now, in the lead up to the global event, more trails have been added.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall joined with New England Mountain Bikers president James Harris and Armidale Regional Councillor Jon Galletly on Wednesday to inspect the $147,780 State Government funded trail.
The project was funded in 2018 through the second round of the Stronger Country Communities Fund, and Mr Marshall said, while the club had faced an uphill battle getting work started on 'Project Gonzo' the finish line was now in sight.
"Local mountain bike riders are just weeks away from having a world-class competition track in their own backyard," Mr Marshall said.
"The addition of this circuit extends the original beginners trail, known as 'Kermit', by 50 per cent - taking the entire run to a whopping 13.5 kilometres.
"Specialist mountain bike trail construction company Dirt Art from Tasmania did the majority of earthworks, which were finished late February.
"The final stage of the project is now underway and includes fencing crossings and installing directional and pedestrian signage.
Mr Harris said the first official event on the course would be in April.
"The first opportunity the community will have to take on Gonzo will be the hugely popular UNE Life 12 Hours in the Piney on 2 April 2022," Mr Harris said.
"This 12-hour team and solo event will be a huge test for the surface, as we are expecting over 250 competitors on course over the day.
"However, the main event we are preparing for is the WEMBO World 24 Hour Solo Mountain Bike Championships in November 2023."
After twice being postponed, Mr Harris said the club had been able to re-negotiate for hosting rights with the trail a valuable lure to securing a world championship event.
"If WEMBO comes off successfully, like Gonzo out of a cannon, the sky really is the limit for the national and international events Armidale could find itself hosting in the future.
"Our club has been waiting for this project to be complete for more than two years now, and we are really looking forward to getting out on the course and putting it through its paces."
Armidale Regional Councillor Jon Galletly said mountain biking had become a popular sport and hobby across the Armidale region in recent years.
"We're incredibly lucky to have Project Gonzo to entertain cyclists enthusiasts both locally and from outside the region," Cr Gelletly said.
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